B.C.

Life was a road to the vanishing point,
something surged on the horizon—
a swarm. A rising hum of unknowns.

On our way, shoulders brushed shoulders
on trains and buses, elbows cleaved throngs.
We forced to the front of the crush

when there was no room. Voices
hived in ambience, we blended in
aerosols, haloed in exhalation.

Interior atmospheres merged,
but we lived and lived.
We cross-pollinated each other’s lungs,

kissed our mothers, fathers and friends.
Strangers’ mouths bared nuance,
marionette lines creased, nostrils flared air.

Incoming fear was a thing to overcome,
not yet terror— not yet
a hunker-down, hope death will drift by.

Evolution hadn’t threatened to swing
its oldest mace. The Morning Star
sparked at the terminus,

called to the floating ghosts. We weren’t
playing tag with the devil, then—
it wasn’t everyone, everyone wasn’t it.

River Elizabeth Hall (she/her) is a poet and naturalist. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bear Review, Pontoon Poetry, Main Street Rag, Nimrod and Tinderbox among others. Her chapbook, “Call a Body Home” was a semi-finalist in the 2021 Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award. More about her writing and other offerings can be found at RiverElizabethHall.com

The Ripening

Tasselled by Independence Day,
field a sea you plunged in
among the green shafts, arms bare,
leaves stroking you like the rough
tongues of ruminants.
The splendid height in fruit
excited you, sugar milking
in the kernel, ears firm
under your learning grasp.
The cob groaned
as you unsheathed it,
exposed pale flesh, gnashed
at the creamy sweetness with
young teeth suddenly ravenous.
That was the humid season
you locked the deep eyes
of a doe at first light,
creeping home past the snow
peas gone by in the dew-cool
between one overwhelming
heat and the next. A blaze
of tail melting into blue trees—
she was gone. A blooded dawn
overgrew the morning star.


Lisa Raatikainen is a writer and music teacher who holds degrees in religion and biology. Her writing has appeared in Whale Road Review, Eunoia Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Vermont with her family.

Lockdown

A monk turned so still 
that those behind him,
who sat, stood and slept
overtook him, and creepers
with blue, white and purple flowers
started crawling over him,

the finest portrayal for me
of restfulness.

Locked down in my house
the way turtle is in its shell,
rather a corpse in the coffin,
I brood if confinement would free us.

A moment of peace
in this raging city, which is calm now,
as the wilderness slowly reclaims—
a rock python enters the office space
and spotted deer graze on unruly lawns,
the world has slowed down
but we refuse to rest.

Debasis Tripathy was born in Odisha, India. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Decomp, UCity Review, Rogue Agent, Leon Lit, Vayavya, Mantle Poetry, and elsewhere. He lives in Bangalore.

Final Thaw of Soft Earth

Something's not right with my river,
my mother says. And it is Truth: each
night the beavers pull apart saplings,
pull them apart fresh and at the edge.
The river gets blocked. The water stops
and at night I hear howling in the east.
In the year of the year of the plague —
this the age I restring my mother's
mother's Miraculous Medal and hang it
from my dash — the days are long as
a year. Ticks fall like spring melt
from branches and cling to the legs
of the moose calves. A great fir tree
falls on a man as he sleeps. The mountain
is angry, my mother says, and it is Truth.
In the days after this, another surgeon
would open me. There is never any
good explanation for my pain, which
is real. I must have it. Night after night,
this racket in the woods; the re-
building of the thaw-rushed dam which,
this time around, might make a good home.
This remarkable rumpus chirping hope.

Samantha DeFlitch is the author of Confluence (Broadstone Books, 2021). A National Poetry Series finalist, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Iron Horse Literary Review, Colorado Review, The Missouri Review, Appalachian Review, and On the Seawall, among others. She lives in New Hampshire with her corgi dog, Moose. 

Popsicle

Does the world need another poem
about a tired mother?

Last week, I wanted to
get in my car and drive
to Somewhere Else.
Anywhere Else, really.

I have hitched my heart
to the notion of a limitless woman,
and I have been
dragged away.

I don’t know this woman.
Not this year, anyway.

I don’t even know
who to be mad at most days,

the days when I
whisper-scream fuck
into the hottest water
coming out of my shower head.

Can I tell you?
I don’t want hot water.

I want to be a popsicle
left alone on the sidewalk;
left to grow soft and sweet and
shapeless in the hottest sun.

I said this part out loud,
so last week my husband
put me in a car
and I drove to the silence
of Somewhere Else
where I could feel my body
melt into an
unrecognizable shape.

I gave her everything
she desired:

I soaked her in quiet,
held her in the dark,
offered her wine,
sugar, a cold antipasto salad.

But mothers can’t stay melted.
So when it was time,

I gathered dish towels and
soaked myself back up,
wrung myself out, and poured
myself back into the shape of a mother.

I returned
only to retreat
to my shower to whisper-scream
what the fuck is wrong with me

and why
is this so hard

and I don’t know what to become
after a popsicle.

Amanda Roth is an emerging poet and author of the full-length collection, A Mother’s Hunger (2021). Her work explores motherhood, embodiment, the climate crisis, and revisionist folklore. She is featured in Wild Roof Journal and Sunday Mornings at the River, among others. Find her on Instagram @amandarothpoetry and Twitter @amandarothpoet

“Verdant” and “Golden Hour”

Verdant

“If the world breaks I hope I will become a garden” - Meow Wolf, Santa Fe

I wonder if the end of the world will be

beautiful — begging, crumbling into mulberry
midnights and shotgunned lives. I wonder
if your hands will be the ones to find
the dark pull of my chest
emptying into the reeds, a secret
baptism for motherless
seedlings. I hope

the small secrets of my body will grow
like sunflowers from the ditches
of my elbows.

I hope this will be
enough.
Golden Hour

Your face is a study in light
freckles glittering on the river
of your chin. The shadows
of flowers falling
from the hibiscus sky stretch
across wallpapered bedroom
endings. I know these petals
will lie there forever — such
a treacly rot.

Your tongue is a lesson
in the composition
of honey. Your body is
a study of warmth, golden
hours spent holding you in
the kitchen without butter, the house
without daffodils. Prisms
of sunlight flicker across the sheets,
your body melting as the day
fades into my chest, waiting for another
sunrise.

Whitney Hansen (she/they) is a Midwestern writer and teacher. Their work is published/forthcoming in Pink Plastic House, Olney Magazine, Variant Literature, and more. She has been nominated for Best of the Net. Twitter: @whitneyhansen_

From “Waveforms: A Short Course in Piano Tuning”

The first thing to understand is movement: the instrument’s magic is
motion and nothing more. See: the boy running and running in the
afterschool wide open, thigh muscles lengthening, contracting,
lengthening; the murmuration of starlings rising in chaotic whorl only to
converge again on the aspen tree—their squawks and warbles morphing
motion into sound. The piano—just perched there—becomes all this the
moment someone’s fingers find the keys. And somewhere, the ocean:
Waves rise up & roll their multi-particulate selves over the shore & back
& up & over again. (the boy imagines his toes are veiled in the receding
surf; the starlings’ distant cousins swoop and dive for lunch) Play a chord
and the sea-god laughs, hoists his trident, stabs it down & stabs again,
calling the world’s whole cache of water to rise & roll & heave. Your ears,
perhaps, are the shore on which the ocean breaks. You, the bare aspen
branches. You, the ground beneath your child’s lengthening strides,
stretching now beyond your bounds. You, the piano’s case, so still, so
stately—it’s purpose not containment, but release.

Andrea L. Hackbarth (she/her) lives in Palmer, Alaska, and is a self-employed piano technician,
poet, and mother. She holds a BA in English from Lawrence University and an MFA from the
University of Alaska Anchorage. Some of her work can be found in Mezzo Cammin, Gravel,
YesPoetry, and other print and online journals.

Earthlight Dispositions

Rain just gone, the warm
sun warms the soil.

A far off bloom of
city lights blues the sky,
a world wiped empty.

The grass is haunted
by the blue,

A placid dimension
of listing coral
as through goggles,

Submerged contour,
endless shivering vista,

Our tiny plot, this,
this the sprawling
daylight’s secret,

Winking whisper
of the midday moon,

And I will be here
every night

To see it
come and gone.

Jesse Miksic (he/him) is a graphic designer and writer living in the
suburbs of Philadelphia. He spends his life writing poetry, ruminating
over pop culture, and having adventures with his wonderful wife, kids,
and dog.  Recent placements include Punk Noir Magazine, Drunk Monkeys,
and Green Ink Poetry. His work and musings can be found at @miksimum on
Twitter and Instagram, or www.miksimum.com

Unknown

As I watched a seed sigh on the
song of a slipstream I realized
that

                   what was once its hope to fly
                              was now its trust in the breeze

                   what was once its dream to take root
                              was now contingent upon the currents that carry
                   
                   this cocoon
                   this chrysalis                   of beginning

                   its weight – which warps the wind –
                   a contribution
                   to the dictation
                   of its destination.


Dana Michele Havas is a poet living in Ithaca NY, when she is not writing she is helping to keep her regional food system resilient by serving farmers in her community. This is amongst her first publications along with her recently published work in New Note Poetry (April 2022). You can find her on Twitter @dmhavas (not terribly active) but welcomes the engagement none-the-less.

When I dream of you now

When I dream of you now you’re always writing
often in verse, leaving shape-poem diamonds
for me to find on 1990s monitors
in our old residence hall on College Street.

They say, we were disaster held
in common. Say, I
                know you loved
                and tried, although
                        afraid.

Another night you’re in prestigious journals,
have shed your family name.
                                                    You touch my arm
and say you didn’t know, then, who you were.

And I’m not jealous. I know you're my mind 
speaking to me, leaving letters on my pillow.

You won’t exit ungracefully for that lover,
all you want is to be near and exchange kindness. 

I didn’t know who I was then, you say sadly,
And I say, that’s all right, come hold me now.

Catherine Rockwood reads and edits for Reckoning Magazine, and reviews books for Strange Horizons. Her poetry chapbook, Endeavors To Obtain Perpetual Motion, is available from The Ethel Zine Press. A micro chapbook, And We Are Far From Shore: poems for Our Flag Means Death, is forthcoming from Ethel in 2023.